The Sales Transformation Trap

A friend of mine relayed a scathing assessment on the uselessness of a recent McKinsey two-day transformation workshop. Hardly a surprise to many of us having suffered such self-styled Tier 1 “consultants”, no doubt.

When seeking itineraries and commentaries online, I realised that part of their problem is how they address the concept.

In their world, there is no such thing as transformation. No. Only high-stakes transformation. Really.

It’s as if House Of Lies never existed.

If you think that’s bad, then consider this. We go “granular”, as they’d say. Drill down into the subgenre sales. The first page of search results may not be the most vigilant method of knowledge mining, yet can you believe this title of a top returned Forbes article?

It Takes Marketing Leadership to Drive Sales Transformation

If that didn’t make you scream, consider the rest of the page as flooded by Big Consulting.

How Ernst & Young define sales transformation is an utter disgrace;

“How cross-functional sales capabilities and competences need to be managed and developed to reach strategic targets of the company and meet changes in the industry”

That they completely disregard the word ‘transformation’ when creating this total drivel is surely a blaring warning for anyone considering commissioning their services.

Any intern could have alerted them as to the missing key element. As the day’s googled answer box (aka featured snippet) for ‘transformation’ alludes; “a marked change in form, nature, or appearance”.

Consider the overall business slant;

“In an organizational context, a process of profound and radical change that orients an organization in a new direction and takes it to an entirely different level of effectiveness. Unlike ‘turnaround’ (which implies incremental progress on the same plane) transformation implies a basic change of character and little or no resemblance with the past configuration or structure.”

Which reminds on the nuance between turnaround – where almost all hope is lost and a dramatic wholesale shake-up is urgently needed, knowingly also termed sharpbending when I was small – and transformation – where you might be doing enough at present, but you sense change is a-coming for which you are currently ill-prepared.

SEO dollars promote first Mercuri;

…facing more educated and autonomous customers today … a deeply transformative six-step process to help sales organisations take the necessary quantum leap forward and reinvent the way they work.

Then BCG;

…merging four new trends (“Data-Driven Selling, Digitization, Globalization, Rebalancing Go-to-Market”) with the still powerful, traditional sales force levers of customer targeting, time on task, and messaging…in as little as four weeks

Pitches that both cause my prospecting spreadsheet to gently weep.

The context of the event which triggered this appeared to be AI and Big Data. Aimed firmly at your FOMO.

The dozens of sales operations I’ve been close to strike me as being in a semi-permanent haze of transformation. Leadership, structure, approach. Each year brings a brand new change upon which to align. Success follows less change transforming, more challenge performing.


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